Tag: End User

Ontario to Conduct Mine Safety Inspection Blitz

The Government of Ontario will be targeting mine ventilation hazards with a safety inspection blitz in the months of October and November.  You can read the official announcement made this week on the Ontario Ministry of Labour website here.  This Initiative is all part of a strategy that Ontario launched back in 2008 called “Safe at Work Ontario”.

These safety blitz’s are very important to workplace safety.  From 2005 to 2009 there were 176 work deaths related to respiratory illnesses in the mining industry.  Clearly the Government of Ontario put the Safe at Work Ontario program in place to help get this number down to zero.

What are They Looking For?

(Taken directly from the Ontario website)
Inspectors will target underground mines that use diesel equipment. This includes:
  • – Mines with large fleets of diesel equipment operating in the underground environment
  • – Recently reopened or new mines operating diesel equipment
  • – Mines where previous ventilation concerns were observed, and
  • – Mines with a poor health and safety compliance history.
Inspectors will check on two types of equipment:
  • – Ventilation systems used to deliver fresh air to underground mines, and
  • – Diesel equipment used for underground transportation of workers and materials and blasting of rock.

Preparing for a Blitz

Organizations can prepare for a blitz by implementing modern safety techniques and performing their own inspections on a regular basis before OSHA or the Ministry of Labour comes on site.  It is easy to draw comparisons to accounting practices and preparing for an accounting audit by the government.  Knowing that there may be an audit at any time forces organizations to have their financial information in tip top shape at all times.  Safety data should be treated in the exact same way.  The current blitz focuses on ventilation systems for mines that run a lot of diesel equipment.  Having monthly safety inspections done internally with a dashboard that rolls up to the CEO or Director of Safety showing missed inspections for instance can make the preparation for an external audit a breeze.

Public Safety Inspection Records for Amusement Parks – Should they be Mandatory?

Roller Coaster SafetyOn July 10th there was a tragic accident at a Darien Lake Theme Park where an Iraq war veteran was fatally thrown from a steel roller coaster.  As a result of this accident many are calling for publicly available safety inspection records of amusement parks.  Since that accident, a local news agency has attempted to obtain safety inspection records for the ride.

Making safety inspections available online to the public would most certainly ensure that these inspections are never missed.  It may seem like some extra work, but if this process is automated every inspection can be recorded much quicker than with pen and paper.

There are other examples of publicly available safety records and I think it offers massive benefits to consumer confidence and public safety.  The City of Toronto has an excellent example of how public safety inspection records can work with their beach water quality reports.  The city tests our beaches every single day (in the summer months) and posts the results on their website.  I am confident in getting into the water on Toronto beaches because of these records.  These safety inspections directly improve Toronto tourism and can have a direct impact on the revenue for the city.

Chicago Federal Health Center Cited for Unsafe Working Conditions

The Federal arm of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) found that the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center was operating in conditions that are considered unhealthy and unsafe for workers. Such conditions are considered an OSHA violation and a violation of federal law.

Although the violations were given during a safety management inspection in the summer of 2010, the notices of violations were not presented until May 2011. The federal health center was not fined for several reasons. Among those reasons are that no workers suffered from injuries and “none of the violations presented an imminent danger,” as claimed by the health center spokesman Jonathan Friedman.

Friedman went on to say that the Lovell Federal Health Center takes the notices “very very seriously and wanted to address them as soon as they were discovered.” Friedman closed by saying that it is important to the center to be in total compliance with all OSHA standards.

OSHA responded to this statement, saying that serious notices, such as those given to the Lovell Federal Health Center are not issued unless the administration believes there is a “substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result.” The representative of OSHA also stated that the notices are given when the employer should have been able to easily recognize the danger.

The citations issued to the health center, which provides care and treatment to veterans and active members of the military, included a total of 11 violations. Among the violations are those for equipment safety and others that could have been avoided with safety management technology and inspection software. The specific violations are as follows:

  1. Stairwells and elevated runways absent of guardrails
  2. Obstructed exit routes
  3. Exit doors not marked as such
  4. Exit signs not posted along exit routes
  5. Unsafe handling of electrical equipment that does not meet standards provided on the labels
  6. Electrical equipment being used that does not have rating markings
  7. Flexible electrical cords and cables unprotected from accidental damage

Health violations were also found by OSHA during the inspection. Notices were given for a total of nine health violations, one of which was a repeat offense. The health violations found include the following:

  1. Type and brand of sharps that had caused workers to be exposed to bodily fluids or blood were not kept in the log
  2. Failure to provide signs and labels in mechanical rooms and on insulated surfaces that contain asbestos
  3. Failure to provide employees with the mandatory two-hour asbestos awareness training
  4. Keeping employees uninformed as to the location of areas and surfaces where asbestos is located
  5. Not requiring healthcare workers who could be exposed to blood to be immunized against hepatitis B
  6. Having no description of the in the training program of the center’s blood-borne pathogen exposure control plan.

Many of the violations could have been avoided had the federal health center simply used the technology available for safety management and inspection management. Inspection software such as Field ID. Field ID can help any type of company avoid even a single OSHA violation through its equipment safety program.

Source: Chicago Tribune

Portable Gas Detector Safety – Part 3 of 3 – Common Myths

This is the third part of a three part series about portable gas detector safety. The first blog discussed the basics of portable gas detectors while the second blog discussed the how and when of testing and calibration.  Thanks to a great article in OH&S, today we’ll talk about common myths about gas detector safety.

Myth 1: Gas detectors needs to be calibrated only to make up for sensor drift

Not true.  Basically, any time a gas detector is used, all prior bump tests are no longer valid.  Anything could have happened to the unit since it was tested and you need to check it again with gas.

Myth 2: My gas detector does a self bump test so I don’t need to calibrate or test it

Wrong.  These tests only verify that the sensor is operational but doesn’t mean the unit is detecting gas.  For example, the sensor might be covered by a chemical which is preventing it from detecting gas, but the sensor could still be working.

Myth 3: I barely use my gas detector, so I don’t need to calibrate or setup a bump test procedure

Incorrect. Everything needs to be documented. If you don’t have the proper documentation that shows tests were done, then it doesn’t matter. Regardless of how many times you use the unit, you need to document and conduct calibrations and tests. You should always maintain a bump test schedule and document all that information.

This concludes my 3 part series on gas detector safety.  Let me know if you have any ideas for other safety series!

source: OH&S

Safety on the Ski Hill – My Trip to Banff

Happy belated Easter readers!  For the Easter long weekend I went to Banff, Alberta, Canada to visit my brother and his family.  If you have never been to Banff it is quite possibly one of the most beautiful places in the world. If you have seen a movie that takes place in a ski town; the scenery  in these movies would resemble Banff quite accurately.  Ski bums and bunnies, family ski trips and party animals share the town to create a fun and unique environment.  We are really busy at Field ID these days, so my trip was only 4 days and I only skied one day so I could spend time with my cute niece and nephew.  What you may not realize is how hard the ski hill works to keep thousands of skiers safe while they enjoy the mountain.

Avalanche Control

My brother has been working in the ski industry for nearly 12 years.  He is trained and certified in avalanche control (and even has an avalanche dog!).  If you have been skiing you may not be aware that ski hills put a lot of effort into snow safety and snow science.  The snow safety team predicts and controls avalanches by causing them in a controlled manor before they occur naturally.  This is accomplished by literally bombing the hills with cannons and explosives dropped from helicopters.

Tracking Explosives

Interestingly enough, there is actually a requirement to do electronic safety inspections on the ski hill. Last year, Canadian ski resorts were mandated to keep electronic inspection records of explosive magazines.  An explosive magazine is a blast shelter for the explosives the snow safety team uses to control avalanches.  These magazines look like metal huts.  The snow safety team must inspect each magazine daily and keep records of these safety inspections.

Ski Patrol

I was also lucky enough to spend time with the ski patrol team.  On a beautiful weekend like this past Easter, the ski hills in Banff can see more than 5000 skiers and snow boarders.  This presents the potential for all types of injuries.  It’s very impressive to see the ski patrol team combing the hill and responding to calls.  They blend in very well, so unless you are injured or really paying attention, you don’t notice how hard and well they work as a team.  Spending a day with them and hearing the radios full of chatter make you appreciate how busy they can get on these packed weekends.

The next time you are on the hill keep this blog post in mind and you will be surprised how you at how much work goes into snow safety.

Portable Gas Detector Safety – Part 2 of 3 – How and When

This is the second part of our 3 part Gas Detector Safety blog series. Last week, we looked at the basics of gas detector safety.  Today, we’ll talk about the the How and When of gas detector safety.  I’ve done some research and found some great advice of what you need to do to maintain compliance.

How to Ensure Gas detector Safety

I’ve summarized an article in OH&S.  Basically, there are are 4 steps in ensuring compliance.

Step 1. Calibration Gas Verification

You need to the expiration date of your calibration gas.  Call your manufacturer if you need to know exactly what concentrations are needed for which monitor.  You need to record this information and keep track of their expiration schedule.  Electronic safety systems like Field ID can really help with this, but people can also use spreadsheets.

Step 2. Record verification date and calibrate

Make sure you are in a room with clean air before zeroing.  Your calibration will be good for 30 days.  You need to record this information and ensure you are on top of the calibration schedule.  Every time the unit is used, it should be zeroed and bump tested.

Step 3. If the unit fails a bump test, recalibrate

Gas detector sensors drift from time to time. If the unit fails a calibration, then send it back to a repair center.

Step 4: Stick to the program

Make sure that you have a process in place to adhere to this program.  The hardest part about gas detection safety is that there is a ton of paperwork and data that you have to manage.  Ensure that you record your data and that everything is being scheduled properly.  Whether you are using a spreadsheet, or inspection software like Field ID, just make sure you are following your program.

For additional information, check out OSHA’s guide here.

Source: OH&S

Computerized Inspections Mandated by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) on Concrete Crossties

Beginning July 1st, 20111 the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) requires the automated inspections of concrete crossties.  The FRA stated that manual visual inspections alone do not suffice and do not analyze weak points in track geometry.  All of this stems from the Amtrak derailment in April 3rd, 2005.  The fault of that accident was abrasion of concrete crossties.

For those that are unfamiliar with crossties, as I was, here is the definition:

A transverse beam or rod serving as a support, especially a beam that connects and supports the rails of a railroad.

Concrete Crosstie

This is great news for Modern Safety.  The FRA is finally stepping in and mandating a better way to manage safety on concrete crossties.  This is one of the first initiatives I have read about where computerization is mandated.  The accident happened in April 3rd 2005, so it took almost exactly 6 years to pass a rule to improve the situation.  We’ll probably see new rulings from the recent Gulf Coast and mining accidents in the next couple of years.  Although we have organizations using Field ID everyday to manage safety electronically, a ruling by the government can really move us towards electronic safety management.  This is a great stepping stone for other areas of safety.

Concrete crossties now account for about 20% of the crossties installed across the US.

Source: OH&S

How Japan’s Nuclear Plants could Benefit from Inspection Software

Damaged Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear plant

It’s horrible to read about the earthquake that happened in Japan on March 11th.  Thousands of people are missing or dead.  In the wake of this disaster, one big issue that has come up is the stability and safety of nuclear plants.

Safety Violations at Nuclear Facilities

Japan’s nuclear safety agency says that the operator at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant repeatedly failed to perform crucial inspections on equipment.  The agency found that the Tokyo Electric Power Co. had been criticized for not inspecting 33 pieces of equipment.  The machinery included equipment such as backup generators, cooling system parts and pumps.  These pieces of equipment are directly involved in cooling the reactor.  Not only that, the agency had cited the facility for lapses for its processes in the past.

Modern Safety and Nuclear Facilities

For such critical pieces of equipment at such a hazardous facility,  inspection software and electronic safety management should almost be mandated.  The undeniable value of inspection software is abundantly clear when something like this happens.  We’ve recently, over the past year or two, have had many electrical coops and utility companies sign up for Field ID to manage safety completely paper free.   I always tell people that inspection software has both tangible and intangible benefits.  Tangible benefits include greater efficiencies and elimination of paperwork.  It’s always hard to discuss and prove intangible benefits, but this is a great example.

How could Inspection Software help the Nuclear Facilities in Japan?

If the plants were using inspection software they would know, in real-time, when something was past due for an inspection.  They would be able to take a handheld inspection device and scan a piece of equipment, know whether it’s safe to use, and store the results online for analysis.  Inspection software can greatly help prevent these types of mistakes from happening.

Unfortunately, it usually takes a disaster for companies and organizations to realize that manual, paper-based inspection management is just not feasible anymore, especially when the stakes are so high.  Hopefully now, nuclear facilities around the world will look into greater detail how they can improve their inspection and safety compliance management processes.  I also feel that the governing bodies, such as Japan’s nuclear safety agency, should look into mandating, or at least recommending, the usage of inspection software across all facilities.  Nuclear facilities are ripe for Modern Safety.

source: CBC

3 Facility Safety Management Challenges

Over the past 4 years, Field ID has made progression from tracking safety for rigging gear, to cranes and hoists to fall protection.  Now we handle work area inspections and tracking safety data about people as well.  You would think that once you have software to track chain slings, it must be no problem to track hoists; but it’s not that easy.  After 4 years of hard work, Field ID is now flexible enough to track safety inspections for almost anything in a manufacturing facility, oil and gas facility or mine site.  This is commonly referred to as Inspection and Safety Compliance Management (ISCM) on our website, but I have heard another term for this as well: facility safety management.  There is even a magazine dedicated to this exact topic of the same name.  So what does facility safety management cover?  I have listed the top 3 we hear about daily below, but these are just a few.

1.  Fall Protection

If you have a harness, you have to inspect it according to the manufacturers recommendations, which is at least once a year.  If you have a lot of harnesses (more than 10) you now need to know where they are and when they are due for inspection.  Imagine a harness is out on a job for weeks and it is due for inspection,  Multiply that problem by hundreds of harnesses and you have a lot to keep track of!

2.  Ladders

Before we started up Field ID, I never really thought about ladders.  Now I think about them all the time, which is somewhat embarrassing.  I certainly never put any thought into the fact that they are required to be inspected.  Similar to most items that need to be inspected, a few of them are no problem – but how do you manage hundreds, or even thousands of ladders.  Excel just doesn’t cut it.

3.  Fire Extinguishers

We have all seen fire extinguishers with stickers hanging off of them.  Whether it has been at the shopping mall or a restaurant.  Quite often that sticker is a record of inspection, someones initials or signature beside the date that they inspected it.  What you probably don’t think about when seeing that sticker, is who is keeping track of it?  Who ensures that it is inspected regularly?  Well, at a large oil and gas facility or mine site, it is the responsibility of the safety manager, and guess what?  That safety manager is required to keep track of hundreds of fire extinguishers and ensure they are ready for action in the case of an emergency.

These are only the top 3 challenges that we hear about every single day.  Sure, managing one of them may not seem that challenging, but combine all 3 and add eye-wash stations, first aid kits, hoses, valves, rigging gear (the list goes on) and this is more than a full time job.  Having the right tool makes a world of difference.

2 Proposed Changes to the MSHA Rules on Pattern of Violations that are Directly Related to Safety Inspection Software

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has proposed changes to the pattern of violation policy regulation.  These changes have been prompted by recent accidents that have happened in mines in the US.

What is the Patterns of Violations (POV)?

Here is an explanation from the MSHA website.  By the way, S&S means “significant and substantial”.

A mine operator that has a potential pattern of recurrent S&S violations at a mine will receive written notification from MSHA. An S&S violation is one that could reasonably be expected to lead to a serious injury or illness. The operator will have an opportunity to review and comment on the documents upon which the potential pattern of violations is based, and develop a corrective action program to reduce S&S violations. MSHA will closely monitor the affected mine’s compliance. If the operator significantly reduces its S&S violation rate, it can avoid being issued a Notice of a Pattern of Violations pursuant to Section 104(e) of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977. If the improvement falls short of prescribed goals, MSHA will issue the notice. For each S&S violation subsequently found, MSHA will issue an order withdrawing miners from the affected area until the cited condition has been corrected. An operator can be removed from a pattern of violations when 1) an inspection of the entire mine is completed and no S&S violations are found or 2) no withdrawal order is issued by MSHA in accordance with Section 104(e)(1) of the Mine Act within 90 days of the issuance of the pattern notice.

2 New Changes and Safety Inspection Software

I found two of the changes were directly related to modern safety and electronic inspection and safety compliance management.

  1. MSHA would post the specific POV criteria, along with compliance information, in a searchable (by mine) database at http://www.msha.gov. The agency’s website would allow operators to monitor their own records against the POV criteria and take proactive measures to eliminate persistent, systemic safety and health hazards. This gives them a chance to bring their mines into compliance with MSHA safety and health standards and regulations.

MSHA will provide criteria in a digital format for mine operators and safety managers to follow.  This is perfect for Inspection Software because you can literally use MSHA’s criteria to monitor compliance on your site.  Now that the information is available, safety inspection software can be used to truly expedite  and provide real analytic data on how your mine is performing against MSHA’s criteria.

  1. The proposal would eliminate the potential POV procedure, which involves written notification that a potential POV exists at a particular mining operation. No longer would mine operators receive advanced warning. Instead, screening under the proposed rule would be for mine operators that meet criteria for a pattern of violations, and the proposal would increase the frequency of MSHA’s review of a mine for a POV from once to at least twice a year. MSHA believes that the ready availability of compliance data on the agency’s website will eliminate the need to inform operators of a potential POV.

MSHA is literally going to double the amount of audits they conduct.  Not only that, they will have everything available digitally and online.  Firstly, you will need to maintain more safety records and ensure their availability, which doesn’t work with paper.  Secondly, how will you compare MSHA’s online records with a paper based system?  It all points to using safety inspection software to accomplish internal safety management.

Summary: Modern Safety Comes to MSHA

MSHA is definitely doing a lot to digitize their processes and make safety data available online.  I think it’s a great initiative towards increasing safety.  I am sure MSHA did their homework in going web-based to manage safety reporting and provide safety transparency.  Mine operators should follow in their footsteps and start to manage safety paper free and completely online and digital.

source: OH&S